The Ministry Of Presence And The Fear Of Inadequacy

Recently there was a tragedy in my flock.  A congregant’s son was in a very bad motorcycle accident and the outlook was not good as he was given a less than 30 percent chance of making it through.  As I rode to the hospital I contemplated the scripture that would provide comfort to the family and I prayed about how to pray for them… but when I got there I found myself plunged so deep into the grief of the moment that all of that dissipated.

I spent the next 18 hours in that hospital with a distraught family who each alternated between sleeping and weeping while I in turn alternated between allowing the exhausted to rest and the exasperated to pour out their hearts.  When finally I left the hospital so that I could attend to other responsibilities, I could not shake the overwhelming sense of guilt I felt at not being able to stay longer or to do more.  

You see Pastors essentially have three responsibilities.  To know/speak the Word, to pray and to administrate the affairs of the Ekklesia.  In this way, the Pastor can be understood to be operating in the role of Prophet, Priest, and King on the behalf of Yeshua within the confines of a localized area.  This tri-corded reality plays itself out in the day to day in a variety of ways; from overseeing the corporate worship or discipleship of the congregation, to the pouring out of oneself into another in the midst of common everyday relationships.

But in crisis planning and platitudes are unreliable. In a crisis, there must be something more… and less.

Henry Nouwen called it the ministry of presence; essentially the sacred blessing of simply being with another.  In a crisis, this is often all one has to offer because no new insight matters and no consolation is enough for the one who is caught in the throes of tragedy.  Yet this doesn’t mean that preparation is unimportant either because unless one has prepared their own heart with prayer and a deep knowledge of the Word they will find themselves unable to rise to the challenge of stillness and presence.

The problem is that our ego gets in the way.  Somewhere within us the old nature, the flesh which sets itself against the things of God (Romans 7), eats away at us – whispering words of guilt and anxiety to cover up the all too raw fear of inadequacy.  And in the end, what usually keeps us from providing people with the comfort they really need, is our unwillingness to lay that fear of inadequacy at the foot of the Throne.

In the end what people need is not the cleverness of Pastors but the comfort of Yeshua and what we are is simply conduits of His Presence.  If we allow our fear to drive us to attempt to be more than this we will actually become less, but if we will rest in His sufficiency then in being less we will become so much more.  This is the Way of the Cross.

For what we preach is not ourselves, but Yeshua the Messiah as YHVH, and ourselves as your servants for His sake.  For Elohiym, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of Elohiym displayed in the face of Messiah.  But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from Elohiym and not from us. 

~ 2 Corinthians 4:5-7 ~